September 22, 2007

Messianic Prophecy and the Words of Jesus

I: INTRODUCTION
During the third decade of the first century AD, Jesus claimed that he was the Messiah1 of the Hebrew Bible.2 And his Messianic claims were the reason why the Jewish leaders of Jerusalem accused Jesus of blasphemy and devised plans to kill him.3

When Jesus began his teaching and miracle ministry, the Jewish people were subject to the Roman Empire and many Jews had great expectations for a kingly political Messiah to overthrow the oppressive Roman government. And prophetic predictions from the Hebrew Bible gave the Jews good reason for their belief that they would see a kingly Messiah.4 But the Hebrew Bible also contained predictions of a prophetic Messiah5 and a suffering priestly Messiah.6 The Jews at this time, however, primarily focused on the prophetic predictions of a political Messiah while Jesus was a master of multitasking and claimed that he was the prophetic Messiah, the priestly Messiah, and the kingly Messiah.
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1The Hebrew word "Messiah" was translated to the Greek word "Christ". And the words "Messiah" and "Christ" derive from the word "anointed one", which means that a person is divinely empowered for a special task.
2The Hebrew Bible (The Jewish Bible) is also the Old Testament of the Christian Bible.
3See Matthew 26:62-66, Mark 14:60-64, Luke 22:66-71.
4The predictions of a kingly Messiah include Psalm 110:1, Isaiah 9:6-7 in the Christian Bible/Isaiah 9:5-6 in the Hebrew Bible, Isaiah 11:1-12:6, Daniel 7:13-14, Micah 5:2-4, Zechariah 14:1-21. Also see Isaiah 2:1-4, Micah 4:1-5.
5The predictions of a prophetic Messiah include Deuteronomy 18:15-19 (with references in John 6:14, 7:40; Acts 3:22-26, 7:37) and Isaiah 61:1-4 (with a reference in Luke 4:14-21).
6The predictions of a suffering priestly Messiah include Isaiah 52:13-53:12.

II: THE PROPHET
Jesus identified himself with the prophetic Messianic ministry described in Isaiah 61. He stood up amongst a group of Jewish worshippers, and he read out loud from Isaiah, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." Then Jesus claimed that he just fulfilled those prophetic verses in the presence of the respective audience.7 And during the next three years, Jesus powerfully preached the good news of God’s kingdom while he miraculously ministered to the poor, to prisoners, to the blind, to the oppressed, and to many other needy people.
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7See Luke 4:14-21 NRSV.

III: THE PRIEST
A primary job description for the priests in the Hebrew Bible was the management of animal sacrifices that were used in worship.8 Some of the sacrifices were part of a thanksgiving and fellowship celebration, but most of the sacrifices were related to requirements for the forgiveness of sins. This sacrificial system foreshadowed9 the sacrificial death of the Messiah. And the sacrificial death of the Messiah was predicted centuries earlier in Isaiah 53, which describes a suffering servant who dies for the sake of others and then eventually succeeds to greatness.10 11

Jesus frequently predicted his eventual suffering and violent death. For examples, Matthew, Mark, and Luke show that Jesus used straightforward language to predict his death and resurrection to his disciples on at least three occasions.12 And all four Gospels record a few cryptic teachings of Jesus that predicted his eventually death and resurrection.13
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8See Leviticus 1:1-9:24, 16:2-34.
9In Biblical studies, a person or event or institution that foreshadows is called a "prefigurement" or a "typology". For example, 1 Peter 3:18-22 teaches that the flood in the days of Noah prefigured new covenant water baptism.
10The original date and the authorship for many chapters of Isaiah is a common subject of academic debate. Many scholars say that some chapters of Isaiah were written in the eighth century BC while other chapters were written in the sixth or fifth century BC, and some claim that parts of Isaiah were written as late as the second century BC. However, regardless of when Isaiah 53 was written according to these debates, the predictive prophecies in Isaiah 53 were written centuries before the life and death of Jesus.
11Various sources of Jewish tradition say that the suffering servant in Isaiah 53 is a symbol that represents the nation of Jewish people, but a literal interpretation of Isaiah 53 describes an individual person who dies for the sake of others and then eventually succeeds to greatness. And various translations of the Targum Jonathon (an ancient source of Jewish Bible tradition) say that Isaiah 53 describes the Messiah.
12See Matthew 16:21-23, 17:22-23, 20:17-19; Mark 8:31-33, 9:31-32, 10:32-34; Luke 9:21-22, 9:44-45, 18:31-33.
13See Matthew 12:39-40, 16:1-4, 21:33-40; Mark 12:1-11; Luke 11:29-30, 20:9-16; John 2:18-22, 3:14-15, 8:28-29, 10:11-18, 11:25-26, 12:23-33, 16:17-28.

IV: THE KING
Jesus identified himself as a kingly Messiah. For example, Jesus quoted Psalm 110:1 while saying that the Messiah is Lord of King David.14 And seventy-seven verses quote Jesus refering to himself as the "Son of Man". The term "Son of Man" refers to Daniel 7:13-14, which describes "one like a human being" or traditionally "one like a son of man" who comes from God through the clouds in the sky to rule all of the nations on earth. For example, Jesus referred to himself as the Son of Man while citing from Daniel 7:13 that describes the Son of Man as "coming with the clouds of heaven".15 Likewise, Jesus identifies himself as the kingly Messiah destined to rule all of the nations on earth.

We will now refer to the predicted Messiah of Daniel 7:13-14 as the "Danielic Messiah", and the Danielic Messiah has interesting implications. First, the title "Son of Man" possibly suggests that the Messiah has a human birth. Second, the divine description of "coming with the clouds of heaven" suggests that the Messiah comes to the earth from the sky. At first glance, these two implications may appear as a puzzling combination. But Jesus clarified the issue when he frequently taught two concepts about the Son of Man: 1) Jesus taught that he was the "Son of Man" during his three years of ministry;16 2) Jesus taught that he would gloriously appear in the future.17 And the glorious appearance in the future is commonly called the "second coming".
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14Matthew 22.41-46, Mark 12:35-37, Luke 20.41-44.
15See Matthew 24:30, 26:64; Mark 13:26, 14:62.
16For examples, see Matthew 8:19-20, 9:1-8, 11:16-19, 12:39-40, 17:22, 20:17-19, 26:1-2, 26:45-46; Mark 2:1-11, 8:31-33, 9:30-31, 10:32-34, 10:42-45, 14:21, 14:41; Luke 5:17-26, 6:22, 7:31-35, 9:57-58, 11:29-30, 17:24-25, 18:31-32, 19:9-10, 22:47-48.
17For examples, see Matthew 19:29, 24:27-31, 24:36-51, 25:31-32, 26:63-64; Mark 8:38, 13:26, 14:61-62; Luke 21:25-26, 22:66-70.

V: THE MESSIANIC KINGDOM TODAY AND TOMORROW
Jesus claimed that he initiated the Messianic Kingdom,18 but Jesus also taught that the fulfillment of the Messianic Kingdom would occur in the future. This means that the Kingdom of God is both now and also will be completed in the future.19 This helps to explain why the New Testament claims that we are living in the new covenant of the Messianic Age while we still do not see the fulfillment of all Hebrew Bible prophecy related to the new covenant/Messianic Age. For example, Jeremiah prophesized about the "new covenant" and said that the Lord would put His laws in the hearts and minds of His people so that no one would need a teacher to learn about the Lord.20 In the present age, believers have the Holy Spirit as a teacher,21 so that prophecy from Jeremiah is partially fulfilled. But we still need the New Testament ministry of teachers until the Lord returns.22 Furthermore, Jesus was the complete Messiah from when he was in Mary's womb to his death by Roman crucifixion, but the fulfillment of all Messianic prophecy will occur when Jesus returns.
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18See Matthew 4:17, 11:12, 12:28, 13:31-32, 19:13-15; Mark 1:14-15, 4:30-32, 10:13-16, 10:29-30; Luke 13:18-19, 18:15-17, 18:29-30.
19For a detailed explanation about the Kingdom of God being both now and in the future, see George E. Ladd (1959) Gospel of the Kingdom.
20See Jeremiah 31:31-34.
21See John 16:5-15, Romans 8:16.
22See 1 Corinthians 13:8-12.

VI: MESSIANIC PROPHECY WITH MULTIPLE FULFILLMENTS
Some Messianic prophecies have multiple fulfillments, and sometimes the original fulfillment did not involve the Messiah. For examples, Psalms 22 and 41 and 69 describe suffering in the first person while they are traditionally associated with David, and Jesus also quoted verses from those Psalms in relation to his own suffering.23 We may refer to these Psalm verses as "secondary Messianic prophesies" because the Messianic fulfillment came after the original fulfillment while the other Messianic prophesies may be called "primary Messianic prophesies".
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23Jesus (Matthew 27:46/Mark 15:34)quoted Psalm 22:1; Jesus (John 13:18) quoted Psalm 41:9; Jesus (John 15:25) quoted Psalm 69:4.

VII: MESSIANIC TYPOLOGY
Jesus told his opponents that he would show them the "sign of Jonah" while referring to Jonah’s three days and nights in the stomach of a large fish that was followed by Jonah preaching to the wicked city of Nineveh.24 Jesus alluded to his eventual death and resurrection when he compared himself to Jonah, and Jonah is an example of a typology or prefigurement, which as described in note number nine is a person, event or institution that foreshadows.
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24See Jonah with references in Matthew 12:38-41, 16:4; Luke 11:29-32.

VIII: CONCLUSION
This brief introduction helps us to understand the structure and content of Messianic prophecy and typology in relationship to the words of Jesus. In sum, Jesus referred to primary and secondary Messianic prophecies and typologies when he taught about the events in his first and second coming. Furthermore, we pray that this introduction will help us to gain a better understanding of all Biblical prophecy and typology.

APPENDIX OF KEY BIBLE QUOTATIONS

The Lord says to my lord, "Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool." (Psalm 110:1 NRSV)

In days to come the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills; all the nations shall stream to it. Many peoples shall come and say, "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths." For out of Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. (Isaiah 2:2-4 NRSV)

For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this. (Isaiah 9:6-7 NRSV, Isaiah 9:6-7 in the Christian Bible is Isaiah 9:5-6 in the Hebrew Bible.)

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6, George Frideric Handel, 1741)

A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear; but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist, and faithfulness the belt around his loins. The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze, their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den. They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah 11:1-9 NRSV)

Surely he has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases; yet we accounted him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have all turned to our own way, and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:4-6 NRSV)

Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him with pain. When you make his life an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring, and shall prolong his days;
through him the will of the Lord shall prosper. Out of his anguish he shall see light; he shall find satisfaction through his knowledge. The righteous one, my servant, shall make many righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will allot him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he poured out himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53:10-12 NRSV)

The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; (Isaiah 61:1-2 NRSV)

As I watched in the night visions, I saw one like a human being* coming with the clouds of heaven. And he came to the Ancient One and was presented before him. To him was given dominion and glory and kingship, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not pass away, and his kingship is one that shall never be destroyed. (Daniel 7:13-14 NRSV)
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*Aramaic one like a son of man (Note from NRSV Anglicized Edition, 1989, 1995.)

Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to him, "Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you." But he answered them, "An evil and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so for three days and three nights the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth. (Jesus quoted in Matthew 12:35-45.)

Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels. (Jesus speaking in Mark 8:38 NRSV.)

While Jesus was teaching in the temple, he said, "How can the scribes say that the Messiah is the son of David? David himself, by the Holy Spirit, declared, 'The Lord said to my Lord, "Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet."' David himself calls him Lord; so how can he be his son?" And the large crowd was listening to him with delight. (Mark 12:35-37 NRSV)

Then they will see 'the Son of Man coming in clouds' with great power and glory. (Jesus speaking in Mark 13:26 NRSV.)

Then Jesus said to them, "Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest me as though I were a bandit? Day after day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not arrest me. But let the scriptures be fulfilled." (Mark 14:48-49 NRSV)

... Again the high priest asked him, "Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?" Jesus said, "I am; and 'you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power,' and 'coming with the clouds of heaven.'" (Mark 14:61-62 NRSV)

Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone. When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing." (Luke 4:14-21 NRSV)

Then he took the twelve aside and said to them, "See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. For he will be handed over to the Gentiles; and he will be mocked and insulted and spat upon. After they have flogged him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise again." (Jesus quoted in Luke 18:31-33 NRSV.)

Then he said to them, "These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled." Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. (Jesus quoted in Luke 24:44-47 NRSV.)




Copyright © 2007, 2008 James Edward Goetz

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Updated 1/30/8

September 21, 2007

Divine Purpose

If we are searching for our purpose in life, we can look to the teachings in the Christian Scriptures. For example, Jesus taught that the most important commandment is, "... you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength."1 And the most important commandment according to Jesus is a key to understanding our purpose in life. In other words, our most important purpose is to love God with all of our life.
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1Mark 12:30. See Jesus quoting Deuteronomy 6:4-5 in Mark 12:28-30 and Matthew 22:36-38.

This all-encompassing love of God is not necessarily a perpetual fuzzy feeling about God, but a devotion that focuses on trust and faithfulness. This love of God includes all of our relationships and activities. For example, Jesus taught that the second most important commandment is, "... you shall love your neighbor as your self."2 And loving our neighbor involves forgiveness,3 ethical living,4 helping needy people,5 and bringing Jesus to every human in the world.6
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2See Jesus quoting Leviticus 19:18 in Mark 12:31 and Matthew 22:39.
3See Leviticus 19:18, Matthew 6:12-15.
4See Mark 12:32, Matthew 22:40.
5See Luke 10:25-37.
6See Matthew 28:18-20, Luke 24:46-48, Acts 1:6-8.

When considering our divine purpose in life, we should also understand the first commandments that God spoke to the first humans as written in Genesis 1:28, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth." Here we see that God’s first commandment to humanity was to have children. This does not mean that everybody should rush to impregnation, which is impossible for many people. But everybody should value the importance of parents7 and the divine institution of marriage.8
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7Deuteronomy 5:16, Ephesians 6:3.
8See Genesis 2:23-24, Matthew 19:3-9.

For the second commandment to humanity, God told us to fill the earth and subdue it. In other words, God commanded humanity to migrate throughout the earth and to develop technology from nature for our advantage. The commandment for us to subdue the earth does not mean that we are to trash our planet, but we are suppose to use nature for human advantage.

When we look to find our purpose in life, we should also consider God’s design of humanity. For example, Genesis 1:27 says, "So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them." This means that the created spirit and mind of humans are a finite representation of the infinite God. And this divine image in humans helps to explain why humans have priority over the rest of creation, as described in Genesis 1:28. And this divine image in humans is part of what allows us to have a parent-child relationship with God, which brings us back to our most important purpose of loving God.

However, there is a problem. The first humans disobeyed and rebelled against God, which caused corruption in the original design of the human spirit. And since then, all humans have inherited a corrupted spirit and have continued to rebel against God.9 But God provided an answer for that problem by sending Jesus to restore us from our corruption and disobedience.10
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9See Genesis 3:3:1-24, Roman 5:12.
10See John 3:16.

Believing in Jesus is the first step in restoring the original plan for our parent-child relationship with God. And all true believers have a portion of the Holy Spirit of God living inside of them.11 And it is only by the power of the Holy Spirit within us that we can fully love God with all of heart and soul and mind and strength.
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11See John 14:16-17, Acts 1:8, Romans 8:14-16, Ephesians 1:13-14.

The Holy Spirit of God within us gives us greater character. For example, Galatians 5:22-23 says, "... the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control...." Here we see that the Holy Spirit within us helps to develop important character qualities that we need for a successful life. And this spiritual development will progress for our entire life while we continue to trust and devote ourselves to God.

We must remember that the same Spirit who gives us joy also gives us patience, and patience is synonymous with long-suffering. And we need patience because we sometimes suffer, some people more than others. We may hope for a life without suffering and a wise person will try to avoid unnecessary suffering, but our Lord Jesus suffered and all of us will suffer in our learning experiences.12
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12See Romans 5:1-4; Hebrews 5:7-10, 12:2-8.

The Holy Spirit of God within us also helps us to fulfill our divine purposes by giving us spiritual gifts. For example, 1 Corinthians 12 says that the Holy Spirit gives some believers a message of wisdom, and others a message of knowledge, and others special faith, and others gifts of healing, and others miraculous powers. Here we see that the Holy Spirit gives gifting such as special wisdom and faith that can help us to succeed in every situation.

We also learn from the teaching about spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12 that God does not give all of the spiritual gifts to lone rangers, but the Spirit of God will disperse all of the spiritual gifts to a group of believers. God did not design us to fulfill all of our purposes by ourselves, and many important accomplishments in life require teamwork.

In sum, we see that our most important purpose is to love God and our second most important purpose is to love humans. And God designed humans to rule the earth while loving God and each other. And God gives His Spirit to live inside believers so we can develop character and gifting that help us to succeed in all that we do.

Many of us have great dreams and goals. This is good because God gives goals and dreams to all of His children.13 We must make sure that we are humble before God and that we allow God to adjust or change our goals.14 We also must be willing to do anything that God asks us to do. We need to be faithful in all of our circumstances if we want God to give us greater responsibilities.15
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13See Joel 2:28-29, Acts 2:17-18.
14See James 4:10, 1 Peter 5:6.
15See Matthew 25:14-30.

I pray that the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit will bless all who hear and all who study these teachings.

For additional reading and meditation, see Romans 12:1-21.



Copyright © 2007, 2008 James Edward Goetz

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Updated 1/27/8

September 19, 2007

Sexual Purity and Scripture

What Does Scripture Say about Second and Third Base?

I appreciate that many teens and adults have taken a pledge to abstain from sex apart from marriage. Some make this choice primarily for health reasons while others make the choice because they honor God by obeying Scripture.

I wish that I did not have to write this embarrassing article, but everybody does not have the same definition for "sex". For example, there are a growing number of teens who pledge to abstain from coitus (genital-to-genital sexual penetration) before marriage while they compensate for their sexual desires by giving and receiving second or third base sexual favors with their sweethearts, which we will call partner masturbation or alternative sexual favors. And many married people avoid coitus apart from marriage while they compensate for their sexual desires by practicing alternative sexual favors with people other than their spouse.

Partner masturbation is the erotic manipulation of genitals apart from coitus. This erotic manipulation may involve manual fondling or oral contact or lap dancing or clothed dry humps. And the participation in these alternative sexual favors may be either heterosexual or homosexual. And in some cases, people participate in group alternative sexual favors.

Former United States President Clinton made the definition of "sex" a world headline when he claimed that the oral sexual favors performed on him by Monica Lewinsky were not part of a sexual relationship. Clinton swore under oath that he had no sexual relations with Lewinsky. Evidently, Clinton believed that his avoidance of coitus apart from marriage meant that he never had sexual relations with Lewinsky while she performed oral sexual favors on him.

I am not sure of the statistics, but I conjecture that the majority of adults in the world associate alternative sexual favors with sexual relations. And a careful study of Scripture implies that sex includes all types of sexual favors. This means that single men and women can avoid coitus without lusting for coitus and still live a sexually immoral life. Likewise, a single woman may claim that she is a virgin who kept her hymen intact, but she is unchaste herself if she participated in alternative sexual favors. And married people can avoid coitus apart from marriage and still live a sexually immoral life.

I felt challenged by people who claimed to keep their virginity while they would participate in sexual favors with their friends. Scripture is crystal clear in its commandments against sex apart from marriage. And Scripture is clear in its commandments against lusting for sex apart from marriage. But Scripture never clearly describes partner masturbation. This can lead to challenging questions. For example, someone might say, "I am a single virgin, what could be wrong when I masturbate my sweetheart?"

The lack of details in Scripture about some alternative sexual relations does not condone any alternative sexual relations. And Scripture never teaches to compensate for sexual tension by practicing masturbation. And Scripture teaches to flee any potential sexual compromise.

Romans 1:24-27 teaches about sexual immorality. Here is Romans 1:24-27:


Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the degrading of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error. (Romans 1:24-27 NRSV)

These verses teach that sexually immoral relations degrade the body. And these verses also include the only passage in Scripture that specifically mentions lesbian sex, which is women having sex with each other. For example, Romans 1:26-27 says that some women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones, and then these relations are compared to men who committed shameful acts with other men. We mention this because lesbian sex can never possibly involve coitus, but it typically involves partner masturbation. This is a clear example of sex apart from coitus. In fact there are many who practice lesbian sex but are virgins in the sense that they never participated in coitus. These are clear examples of virgins who live sexually immoral lives. And by no means does God wink his eye at heterosexual immorality and only condemn homosexual immorality. Everybody who participates in sexual relations apart from marriage lives an immoral life.

Apart from the reference in Romans 1:24-27, the original context of Scripture implies that sexual immorality includes all sexually orgasmic relations apart from marriage. Keeping premarital virginity and marital fidelity are priceless treasures, but we are tricking ourselves and possible others if we believe that alternative forms of sexual relations apart from marriage are moral. Incidentally, this leads to an oxymoron, sexually degraded virgins or unchaste virgins.

The pledge to abstain from sex before marriage is not enough. Single people must follow through with a life of sexual abstinence except for marriage. And all people who marry must remain faithful to their spouse. And if people are widowed or divorced, they must resume abstinence. Scripture gives all humans two options to fulfill their sexuality: abstinence while single or heterosexual marriage. And if we have fallen from sexual purity, God can cleanse and restore us through the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Since we are discussing partner masturbation, we also want to briefly mention self masturbation, which typically includes sexually immoral fantasies. Many Christian leaders acknowledge that most pubescent males cannot initially control themselves from practicing self masturbation. And many people who convert to Christianity from a sexually promiscuous lifestyle cannot initially control themselves from practicing self masturbation. But through devotion to God and Scripture, any devout Christian can prevail over sexually immoral fantasies that may lead to self masturbation.

We also want to briefly discuss homosexual orientations. Studies of mammals indicate that a small percent of mammals are abnormal in that they have a homosexual orientation. Various criminal and cultural and religious influences may also cause homosexual orientations. And some people have both a homosexual and a heterosexual orientation, which is a bisexual orientation. Whatever orientation we have, we need to abstain from sexual immorality. We have heard reports that some homosexuals who converted to Christianity had eventually lost their homosexual orientation. And other homosexuals who converted to Christianity did not lose their orientation but live happily in a life of sexual abstinence.

We also want to briefly discuss marital sexual relations. For those of us who marry, in private we may kiss and caress our spouse however we mutually agree. And apart from our other responsibilities in life, we have no limits in how we healthfully express our love to our spouse.

Jesus lived his earthly life to the fullest, and Jesus lived all of his life in sexual abstinence. And whether we are single part of our life or single all of our life, while we are single we may live life to the fullest in all purity. And for those of us who marry, we may live life to the fullest in all purity. And for all of us who have sinned sexually, God can cleanse and restore us to our full potential.

Additionally, to live our life to the fullest in all sexual purity, we need to prepare ourselves to say "No" to sexual advances from the dreamiest partner that could tempt us. And we must never let the dreamiest partner intentionally or unintentionally deceive us into thinking that alternative forms of sexual stimulation apart from marriage are moral. Offers and accepting offers of going to third base but not going past third base are not acceptable to God. Without this knowledge, someone may trick us into immorality.

On the other hand, offers and acceptance of offers of discreet platonic hugs are often appropriate. And platonic hugs are absolutely necessary for most people.

For many of us, the only possible way to live a life of sexual purity is to live our life close to God. The all powerful and all wise Spirit of God who created the universe and resurrected Jesus from the dead indwells the lives of all believers. And we need to live our life with the strength and guidance of the indwelling Spirit of God to conquer every temptation.

The temptation from someone offering us a sexual favor is not sin. We sin only if we accept the offer or if we let our thoughts dwell on the offer.

We also want to make sure that we are not carelessly or purposely provoking others to sexually lust for us, which is also immoral. But if we live a pure life while dressing appropriately, we are not sinning if others are lusting for us. We cannot control other people. We can only control ourselves.

If anybody struggles with sexual purity, reading relevant articles and books from a scriptural perspective may help. In some cases, counseling may help. And Scripture meditations are critical. We will end this article with quoting Titus 2:11-12 in two translations. And meditating on this passage will help any Christian to live a pure life. Here is Titus 2:11-12:


For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all, training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly.... (Titus 2:11-12 NRSV)

For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.... (Titus 2:11-12 TNIV)




Copyright © 2007, 2008 by James Edward Goetz

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, TODAY'S NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 2001, 2005 by International Bible Society®. Used by permission of International Bible Society®. All rights reserved worldwide.

Updated 1/27/8

September 17, 2007

Theistic Evolution and Christian Orthodoxy

ABSTRACT
Some concepts of theistic evolution are compatible with Christian orthodoxy when we consider a topical and figurative interpretation of Genesis 1-11. And we are not obligated to enforce the false dichotomy that implies that the divinely inspired ancient Near Eastern literature of Genesis 1-11 is either a literal history or a string of figurative stories with no historical basis. We may refer to Genesis 1-11 as a divinely inspired string of figurative stories with a historical basis. And Christian orthodoxy is compatible with all scientific discoveries while it is incompatible with philosophical materialism.

INTRODUCTION
Despite the twenty-first century hype of the creation-evolution debate, prominent Christian orthodoxy theologians from as early as the nineteenth century had no theological or biblical problem with some concepts of evolution and universal common descent. For example, in 1888, Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield gave a lecture to his students and said, "if we condition the theory [of evolution] by allowing the constant oversight of God in the whole process, and his occasional supernatural interference for the production of new beginnings by an actual output of creative force... we may hold to the modified theory of evolution and be Christians in the ordinary orthodox sense."1

Warfield stated that Christian orthodoxy is consistent with a theistic model of universal common descent as long as the evolutionary model included divine interference, also known as divine intervention. And in 1899, Augustus Hopkins Strong held to both Christian orthodoxy and a belief in divine guidance during the evolutionary origins of human (Homo sapiens) anatomy.2

On the other hand, some denominations oppose all theistic interpretations of universal common descent. For example, the Assemblies of God has a 1977 position paper "The Doctrine of Creation" that says that Genesis 2:21-22 is inconsistent with any theory of evolutionary origins of humanity because these verses teach that the first woman was made from a piece of flesh that was removed from the first man. And no theory of evolution would incorporate a literal interpretation of this event.3

CHRISTIAN ORTHODOXY AND CREATION
We see above that there are different ways of dealing with a Christian orthodoxy interpretation of creation. In regards to creation, common pillars of faith in Christian orthodoxy include the following: 1) God created the material universe from nothing; 2) God has miraculously intervened in the material universe; 3) God has specially created human souls.4 And Christian orthodoxy also maintains that the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament are the word of God written accurately through humans and are true in all that they teach. And for the rest of this paper, we maintain a perspective of Christian orthodoxy.

TOPICAL AND FIGURATIVE INTERPRETATION OF GENESIS 1-11
Maintaining a belief in the truthfulness of all Bible teachings while incorporating scientific inferences related to the timeline of the universe and prehistory has challenges for some interpretations of Genesis 1-11 and all other Bible verses that refer to Genesis 1-11. For example, some Bible interpreters teach that the ancient Near Eastern writing of Genesis 1-11 is a literal history, which has conflict with scientific inferences related to the timeline of the universe and prehistory.5 6 7 On the other hand, some Christian orthodoxy interpreters hold to a topical and figurative view of Genesis 1-11, which means that the respective ancient Near Eastern writing focused on the topic and used rich symbolism instead of focusing on the chronology and literal history.8 9 This implies that God never taught that all of the symbolic details of the respective verses are a literal description of prehistory. Likewise, a topical and figurative interpretation of Genesis 1-11 has minimal scientific limitations and implies that the Bible is not teaching any specific timeline of the universe and prehistory or any specific model of creation, for example, six-solar-day creationism, the gap theory, old earth creationism, or theistic evolution.

William Sanford LaSor and colleagues present an excellent Hebrew Bible survey that describes a topical and figurative interpretation of Genesis 1-11,10 and the authors maintain that the Bible is the word of God written accurately through humans and is true in all that it teaches.11 LaSor and colleagues call Genesis 1-11 the "primeval prologue". And they recognize a strong use of literary devices that were common in the ancient Near East while they also explain that all of the events have a historical basis. Likewise, the primeval prologue does not teach many historical details or chronology, but the primeval prologue teaches several important truths that include the following: God created everything in the universe; God intervened to form the original humans; God created and formed a good universe; God designed and instituted marriage; humans fell from their original paradise through the disobedience of the original humans; humans continued to live in depravity; and humans migrated throughout the earth.

In other words, we are not obligated to enforce the false dichotomy that implies that the divinely inspired ancient Near East literature of Genesis 1-11 is either a literal history or a string of figurative stories with no historical basis. We may refer to Genesis 1-11 as a divinely inspired string of figurative stories with a historical basis.

PROBLEMS WITH A LITERAL INTERPRETATION OF GENESIS 1-11
A literal interpretation of Genesis 1-11 that fails to recognize the purpose of the literary devices has problems. For example, in 419, Augustine published City of God while noting some problems with a literal interpretation of Genesis 1. Augustine said that a literal interpretation might struggle with an internal inconsistency by claiming that there was a literal day and night during the first three days of creation (Gen 1:1-13) despite the verses that say God created the sun and the other stars during the fourth day (Gen 1:14-19). And in the context of the geological record and animal phylogeny, a literal interpretation might insist that the origin of sea mammals and birds (Gen 1:20-23) preceded the origin of all land amniotes (Gen 1:24-25). We affirm that Genesis 1 describes six solar days and nights, but as noted by Meredith Kline, these days are a literary framework that teaches about topics instead of chronology.12

Kline also notes that a traditional literal interpretation of Genesis 1 causes conflict by pitting Scripture versus Scripture. He explains that Genesis 2:5 teaches that God did not form vegetation until there was a natural means to preserve the vegetation. For example, Genesis 2:5 says that there was no vegetation until there was a water supply that could preserve the vegetation. And this conflicts with a literal interpretation of the third day in Genesis 1:9-13 that implies that God formed vegetation before the formation of the sun, which would literally mean that a source of light and heat other than the sun had preserved the original vegetation.13

A literal interpretation of the primeval prologue is also inconsistent with population genetics studies that estimate past (long-term) population sizes of various extant species. For example, the study of genetic diversity within a species can infer if the respective lineage had a population bottleneck in the last few million years. And population genetics studies of various mammals such as humans14 15 16 and orangutans17 conclude that in the last few million years there have been no ancestral bottlenecks with the effective population size18 that was less than ten thousand individuals. Likewise, unless there is a major flaw in the respective research methodologies, these studies imply that the lineages for these mammals in the last few million years never had a population size that was less than an order of ten thousand individuals. And these population sizes are incompatible with a literal interpretation of Adam and Eve in Genesis 2:4-3:24 and a literal interpretation of the global flood in Genesis 6-8.

These estimated population sizes, however, are compatible with Genesis 2:4-3:24 if Adam and Eve in some ways figuratively represent the first group of humans. We are not claiming that these verses suggest that Adam and Eve represent a group of people with a community/tribal leader, but the figurative structure of these verses do not prohibit the possibility. And in the case that there are no major flaws in the population genetics methodologies that estimate past population sizes in humans, then is some ways Adam and Eve represent all of the original humans. And in this case, we may assume the human fall from paradise would have been a unanimous community/tribal decision.

The above population sizes are also compatible with various interpretations of a regional Noahic Flood.19 And the Table of Nations in Genesis 10 primarily describes Caucasian populations, which might be a clue within the primeval prologue that both the flood and the following migrations were regional events. And Mark Isaak compiled several potential scientific problems with a global flood in the days of Noah.20

HEAVENLY ARCHETYPES AND PHYSICAL HISTORY IN GENESIS 1-11
Two-level hermeneutical principle
We noted earlier that Kline interprets Genesis 1 as a literary framework. Kline also explains that the Bible in several passages teaches about a two-level (two-register) cosmology, which involves a heavenly level and a physical level. And Kline explains that in the case of Genesis 1:1-2:3 there is a metaphorical relationship between the archetype in the heavenly level and the history in the physical level. In other words, the days of creation are a heavenly archetype while a figurative physical history. And Kline also explains that the figurativeness in the physical history is no problem for the doctrine of the Sabbath taught in Exodus 20:8-11.21 And this models an important hermeneutical principle, which we call the "two-level hermeneutical principle".

This principle helps to explain how a Bible writer could have formulated doctrine while making a literal reference to Bible verses that are figurative in the physical level. For example, Exodus 20:11 affirms the teaching of the Sabbath while saying that the Lord made the heavens and the earth in six days while resting on the seventh day. The doctrine of the Sabbath flows from a literal understanding of Genesis 1:1-2:3. But the literalness is in the reference to the heavenly archetype instead of the physical history. And we assume that God had the prerogative to inspire the writing of the ancient Near Eastern Bible in any way that God pleased. And as described above, God gave clues within the Bible that affirms the use of the two-level hermeneutical principle.

The two-level hermeneutical principle can apply to other verses in Genesis 1-11 and other verses that refer to Genesis 1-11. For example, as stated earlier, if we assume that there are no major flaws in the population genetics methodologies that estimate past effective population sizes of humans and other mammals, then we may consider assuming that there was at least an order of ten thousand humans in the original human rebellion. And some Bible interpreters might think that this is incompatible with Pauline references to Adam and Eve (Rom 5:12–21, 1 Cor 11:3-16, 1 Tim 2:13-14). But we can extend the two-level hermeneutical principle to all of these verses. And we can also extend it to the Petrine references to the Noahic Flood (2 Pet 2:5, 3:6) and the primordial waters in Genesis 1:2-10 (2 Pet 3:5).

Two-level principle and Romans 5:12-21
We will begin by applying the two-level hermeneutical principle to Romans 5:12-21. These verses refer to a literal Adam while teaching that all humans inherited a destiny of sin and death from "one man". However, based on the two-level principle, this could be a literal reference to the heavenly archetype. So regardless if the number of original humans that fell from grace was two or ten thousand in physical history, there was one man in the heavenly archetype. And all humans born after The Fall inherited a destiny of sin and death.

Two-level principle and 1 Corinthians 11:3-16
Paul teaches about men and women and the cultural importance of head coverings in 1 Corinthians 11:3-16 while appealing to Genesis 2:20-25. For example, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11:8-9 (NRSV), "Indeed, man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for the sake of woman, but woman for the sake of man." These Pauline verses flow from a literal interpretation of God forming Eve from a piece of flesh from Adam’s side (Gen 2:21-23). However, these verses could be a highly symbolic physical history while a literal reference to the heavenly archetype. And regardless if this event was literal or figurative in the physical history, the biblical doctrine about men and women and head coverings are the same.

Two-level principle and 1 Timothy 2:11-14
Paul teaches in 1 Timothy 2:11-14 about the precedence of male leadership in the church. And Paul supports this doctrine by appealing to a literal interpretation of Genesis 2:4-3:24 by citing that God formed Adam before God formed Eve and Eve sinned before Adam sinned. However, these verses could be a figurative physical history while a literal reference to the heavenly archetype. And regardless if these events were literal or figurative in physical history, the teaching about male leadership is the same.

Two-level principle and 2 Peter 2:5
Peter teaches about God’s saving grace and judgment while referring to God saving eight people from the Noahic Flood (2 Pet 2:5). However, the respective verses could be figurative in the physical level while a literal reference to the heavenly archetype. And regardless if the Noahic Flood in Genesis 6-8 was physically regional and never touched distant human populations or physically global and wiped out all but eight humans, the doctrine about God’s saving grace and judgment are the same.

Two-level principle and 2 Peter 3:5-6
Peter teaches about the return of Jesus in 2 Peter 3:5-6 while referring to the primordial waters in Genesis 1:2-10 and the flood waters in Genesis 6-8. Again, these verses could be figurative in the physical level while a literal reference to the heavenly archetype. And regardless if the primordial waters and the quantity of the flood waters are figurative in the physical level, the doctrine of the return of Jesus is the same.

Two-level principle and natural science
If we assume that science has no major flaws in the methodologies that infer the timeline of the universe and evolutionary phylogenies and past population sizes of humans, then the above applications of the two-level hermeneutical principle have no conflict with these scientific discoveries. And we may conclude that God decided to teach the respective doctrines with powerful figurative stories that people of all cultures throughout history could understand. Likewise, God ensured that people would need no scientific knowledge to understand these doctrines.

And we caution against an excessive use of the two-level principle. For example, we are not affirming ancient traditions of an allegorical interpretation for every verse in the Bible. But if we see compelling evidence in the Bible or nature, then we may consider applying the two-level principle. However, a physicalist speculation such as "there never was a supernatural miracle" is no reason for concluding that a particular Bible verse must be figurative.

OPPOSITION TO A FIGURATIVE INTERPRETATION OF GENESIS 1-11
If we assume an interdisciplinary approach to the two-level hermeneutical principle and natural science, then some people may ask why God never inspired a Bible writer to clarify the truth about the timeline of history and evolution and the original population size of humans. But we can think of some reasons why God avoided this. For example, explaining the basics about the timeline of the universe and prehistory take a long time. And God decided to teach important eternal truths about physical origins and prehistory in just eleven chapters of the Bible while using powerful figurative stories that require no knowledge of scientific discoveries. And there was no theological reason for God to have inspired an extraordinarily large book of Bible that would have explained the basics of the timeline of the universe and prehistory so that it would have been comprehendible to the ancient Hebrews. And such a book would not have served God’s purposes for the Bible.

Noel Weeks opposes a figurative interpretation of Genesis 1-11.22 And he asks, "Is there any explicit teaching within the Bible itself that suggests its details are not to be pressed in matters of the physical creation?"23 And we agree that there is no explicit teaching within the Bible that suggests that any of Genesis 1-11 is a figurative description of the physical creation and prehistory. However, we noted earlier that both Augustine and Kline describe clues within the Bible that "imply" that some verses in Genesis are figurative in physical history. So we cannot claim that it is explicit, but we can claim that it is implicit. In other words, the Bible implies that some verses in Genesis are figurative in the physical history.

Weeks also argues that various Bible verses that assume a literal interpretation of the respective verses in Genesis would suffer if we insist upon a figurative interpretation of Genesis 1-11.24 But we suppose that the above explanation of the two-level hermeneutical principle refutes that opposition.

ANATOMICAL EVOLUTION AND THE HUMAN SOUL
Evolutionary theory proposes to explain the origin of human anatomy, but Christian orthodoxy teaches that humans contain more than physical anatomy. Ironically, there are no Hebrew or Greek words that refer exclusively to the nonphysical soul. For example, the Hebrew and Greek words for both "soul" and "spirit" have multiple meanings.

The Hebrew word for "soul" is nephesh. The word nephesh primarily means "possessing life", and sometimes refers to animals. And the word nephesh sometimes refers to the seat of human physical appetite, the source of emotions and will and moral action, an individual person, and a dead body. And the Hebrew Bible teaches that the soul departs at death. And the word nephesh has overlapping meanings with other words that mean "heart" and "spirit".25

The Greek word for "soul" is psyche. The word psyche has various similar meanings to nephesh.26 And Matthew 10:28 teaches that killing the human body does not kill the psyche while Revelation 6:9 refers to the psyche of the martyrs below the heavenly altar. Likewise, depending on the context, psyche can refer to everything in human life or specifically the nonphysical soul.

The Hebrew word for "spirit" is ruah while the Greek word for "spirit" is pneuma. These words have various meanings that include wind, breath, divine power, human spirit, and divine spirit. And several times the word pneuma refers to angelic or demonic spirits.27 So sometimes we refer to the nonphysical world as the spiritual world.

Also, the Hebrew Bible teaches that humans exist in Sheol after death.28 And the Greek equivalent to the word Sheol is “Hades” while the New Testament teaches that humans exist in either Hades or Paradise after death and before the end-time resurrection. And these references to human existence after death and before the end-time resurrection imply that humans have a nonphysical soul.

Despite the lack of biblical words that refer exclusively to the nonphysical soul, all of the above imply that humans have a nonphysical soul. Perhaps part of the reason for this lack of exclusive terms is because the mind and will and emotions of living humans are a dichotomy of the physical and nonphysical. For example, humans have neurological wiring that facilitates spirituality.29

THE NONPHYSICAL IN A MATERIAL WORLD
Methodological materialism (the scientific method) does not imply philosophical materialism.30 For example, methodological materialism assumes that all physical and chemical and biochemical properties reduce to the fundamental laws of nature (reductionism). But this type of reductionism does not indicate whether or not nonphysical elements (the supernatural) interact with the physical world. In other words, methodological materialism has no opinion about the supernatural. On the other hand, philosophical materialism is a concept that insists that there are no nonphysical elements in the universe. Likewise, Christian orthodoxy is compatible with methodological materialism while incompatible with philosophical materialism. And Christian orthodoxy believes that God created the fundamental laws of nature.

As stated above, reductionism implies that physics and chemistry and biology reduce to the fundamental laws of nature. Some people take reductionism to an extreme and also say that human psychology reduces to the laws of nature. But Christian orthodoxy believes in a nonphysical soul, so this implies that psychology reduces to both the laws of nature and the laws that govern the nonphysical.

Christian orthodoxy also believes that God and various angels have miraculously intervened in the material world. And as previously stated, methodological materialism has no opinion about the supernatural.

DIVINE SUPERVISION AND INTERVENTION
God supervises everything in the universe (Ps 139:1-18, Heb 4:13). And God intervenes in the material universe according to divine purposes (Gen 50:20, Rom 8:28). And some periods of biblical history experienced more miraculous intervention compared to other periods. So in some ways, God periodically intervenes. However, in some ways, God constantly intervenes. For example, God constantly intervenes in the lives of New Covenant believers through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (Rom 8:9).

God also constantly intervenes in the spiritual world. For example, the New Testament calls Satan "the ruler of this world" and "the god of this world" (John 12:31, 1 Cor 4:4 NRSV). And Satan presumably held this position since the fall of humanity. But God intervenes to limit the malevolent activity of Satan and his demons (Job 1:12, 1 Cor 10:13).

CONCLUSION
Prominent Christian orthodoxy theologians since the nineteenth century have affirmed that there is no theological or biblical conflict with a theistic model of evolution and universal common descent. And the Bible itself implies that some verses in the primeval prologue and the respective Bible verses that refer to the primeval prologue are figurative in physical history. And we affirm that the two-level hermeneutical principle stems first and foremost from the Bible with no knowledge of scientific discoveries. Likewise, the Bible has no conflict with scientific discoveries that include inferences of evolutionary relationships and past population sizes of humans.

We should never pit the Bible against firmly established scientific evidence. And we should never confuse scientific discoveries with physicalist speculations because physicalist speculations are philosophy instead of science. We may conclude that Christian orthodoxy is compatible with all genuine scientific evidence while incompatible with physicalism.

And Christians who hold to both orthodoxy and universal common descent have various views based upon the evidence in evolutionary science. For example, I propose that the Creator or related agents occasionally intervened in probabilistic evolutionary mechanisms.31 And this is consistent with Warfield’s 1888 lecture. On the other hand, some Christians hold to both Christian orthodoxy and Darwinism.32 33

We reject Darwinism without occasional intervention from the perspectives of both the evidence in evolutionary science34 and biblical theology. However, many Darwinists hold to the central pillars of Christian orthodoxy faith, which include the following:
1) The Bible is the word of God written accurately through humans and is true in all that it teaches
2) God created the material universe from nothing
3) God specially created human souls
4) God intervened in the universe by accurately speaking through the Prophets and Apostles according to the biblical records
5) God intervened in human history according to the biblical records, which include the divine incarnation and bodily death and bodily resurrection of Jesus

Among the central pillars of Christian orthodoxy faith, the primary pillar is the divine incarnation and bodily death and bodily resurrection of Jesus. And the resurrection of Jesus has amazing implications. Jesus physically died on a Friday late afternoon and physically resurrected the following Sunday early morning. This means that his corpse was dead for roughly thirty-six hours, which suggests that his corpse experienced rigor mortis and then physically resurrected. Belief in this amazing divine intervention sets apart Christian orthodoxy from liberal Christianity.

The Bible has many important teachings, and most of them are secondary to the central pillars of faith. And there are many disagreements about secondary Bible teachings that have no consequences concerning eternal salvation. For example, Warfield teaches that Christian orthodoxy implies that God occasionally intervened beyond divine superintendence during the formation of biological species, presumably interpreted from Genesis 1-2. We agree with Warfield, and we rank this as a secondary teaching.

1B.B. Warfield, Evolution, Scripture, and Science: Selected Writings, ed. M.A. Noll and D.N. Livingstone (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 2000), 151.
2A.H. Strong, Christ in Creation and Ethical Monism (New York: Griffith & Rowland, 1899).
3The above position paper does not represent a fundamental truth for the AG or I never would have received AG ministry credentials.
4We believe in the immediate divine creation of each human soul, but this paper is also compatible with the doctrine of traducianism.
5The scientific view of the timeline of the universe and prehistory includes inferences about the chronology of energy/mass creation and the expansion of the universe and star formation and planetary formation and biological evolution and prehistoric human migrations.
6N. Weeks, "Problems in Interpretation of Genesis: Part 1", Ex Nihilo 2/3 (1979), 27-32.
7N. Weeks, "Problems in Methods of Interpretation—Genesis 1-11: Part 2", Creation 2/4 (1979), 22-6.
8B. Ramm, The Christian View of Science and Scripture (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1954).
9B. Ramm, Protestant Biblical Interpretation, 3rd ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1970).
10W.S. LaSor, D.A. Hubbard, and F.W. Bush, Old Testament Survey: The Message, Form, and Background of the Old Testament, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996), Chapter 2.
11Ibid., Chapter 45.
12M.G. Kline, "Space and Time in the Genesis Cosmogony", Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith 48 (1996), 2-15.
13Ibid.
14N. Takahata, Y. Satta, and J. Klein, "Divergence Time and Population Size in the Lineage Leading to Modern Humans", Theoretical Population Biology 48 (1995), 198-221.
15S. Sherry, H.C. Harpending, M.A. Batzer, M. Stoneking, "Alu Evolution in Human Populations: Using the Coalescent to Estimate Effective Population Size", Genetics 147 (1997), 1977-82.
16A.G. Clark, K.M. Weiss, D.A. Nickerson, S.L. Taylor, A. Buchanan, J. Stengard, V. Salomaa, E. Vartiainen, M. Perola, E. Boerwinkle, and C.F. Sing, "Haplotype Structure and Population Genetic Inferences from Nucleotide-sequence Variation in Human Lipoprotein Lipase", American Journal of Human Genetics 63 (1998), 595-612.
17Y. Zhang, O.A. Ryder, and Y. Zhang, "Genetic Divergence of Orangutan Subspecies (Pongo pygmaeus)", Journal of Molecular Evolution 52 (2001), 516-26.
18The "effective population size" is the hypothetical equivalent to the number of randomly breeding adults in a population.
19C.A. Hill, "Noachian Flood: Universal or Local?" Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith 54 (2003), 70-83.
20M. Isaak, "Problems with a Global Flood", Talk.Origins (1998), www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-noahs-ark.html.
21Kline.
22Weeks, "Problems in Interpretation of Genesis: Part 1"; Weeks, "Problems in Methods of Interpretation—Genesis 1-11: Part 2".
23Weeks, "Problems in Methods of Interpretation—Genesis 1-11: Part 2".
24Ibid.
25W.J. Cameron, "Soul", New Bible Dictionary, 2nd ed. J.D. Douglas and N. Hillyer (Wheaton: Tyndale House, 1982), 1135.
26Ibid.
27J.D.G. Dunn, "Spirit, Holy Spirit", New Bible Dictionary, 1136-42.
28D.K. Innes, "Sheol", New Bible Dictionary, 1103.
29A. Newberg, E. D’Aquili, and V. Rause, Why God Won’t Go Away: Brain Science and the Biology of Belief (New York: Ballantine Books, 2001).
30E.C. Scott, "Science, Religion, and Evolution", Evolution: Investigating the Evidence, eds. J. Scotchmoon and D.A. Springer, The Paleontological Society: Special Publications 9 (1999), archive www.ncseweb.org/resources/articles/6366_science_religion_and_evoluti_6_19_2001.asp.
31J. Goetz, "The Extravagant Creator of Junk DNA", Progress in Complexity, Information, and Design (in review), www.iscid.org/boards/ubb-get_topic-f-10-t-000105.html.
32K.R. Miller, Finding Darwin’s God: A Scientist’s Search for Common Ground between God and Evolution (New York: HarperCollins, 1999).
33M. Ruse, Can a Darwinian be a Christian? The Relationship between Science and Religion (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001).
34Goetz.



Copyright © 2007, 2008, 2011 James Edward Goetz

Updated 6/25/11